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Old 27-03-2010, 11:42   #1
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Info on GPS and Weather Radios

My husband and I are planning on making the trek to Bimini from Ft. Lauderdale in June of this year. We were wondering if anyone might have some advice on which GPS system or Weather radio system we should purchase for the trip. If you have an opinion, please reply. Thank you!
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Old 27-03-2010, 11:50   #2
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For weather your regular old marine VHF radio will pick up NOAA weather to Bimini and beyond.

For GPS, depends. Most important, what's your budget? You can get GPS for $100 to $10,000, seriously.

Also what features. Do you want a fixed system or portable? Do you want full charts, integration with other systems or just basic position or lat/lon info. Of course more features, more money.

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Old 27-03-2010, 11:54   #3
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I would like your opinion on what features I need to keep my family safe. I know that it is a relatively short trip, but I don't want to take any chances. Wouldn't mind spending around 600 dollars if needed to.
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Old 27-03-2010, 12:29   #4
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Agree with Skip. If you have a good VHF you will have weather info and the ability to call for assistance if you are not going further east than Bimini. A handheld GPS will allow you to plot your position on charts. $600 will not get you the more sophisticated GPS chartplotters (except maybe used).
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Old 27-03-2010, 12:41   #5
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we have a VHF on the boat but I do not have a marine gps at all. If i use a hand held, which brand is best? I have a Garmon gps for my car. What type of features do i actually need on the gps? Chart plotters only?
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Old 27-03-2010, 13:46   #6
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I have a Garmin. Here is a thread discussing those options:

Looking for Advice on Handheld GPS Units

A hanheld will usually have a rough map but nothing sufficient for navigation. You take the latitude and longitude coordinates from the GPS and plot them on your chart. a chartplotter is a much more expensive option that displays your boat's position continuosly on an electronic chart.
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Old 27-03-2010, 21:22   #7
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Hi Tdev15,

I am not totally up to speed on all the features and models but as far as I know, I don't think a $600 budget would get a GPS with full charts, especially for the Bahamas.

A chart plotter would be cool but a hand held and paper charts will accomplish the same thing with just a little more work. Of course you would take paper charts even if you had a plotter. The Garmin 76CSX has gotten very good reviews, will fit your budget and give you your position, speed, and other basic navigation functions. The GPS will give you the position to plot manually on the paper chart.

I would recommend one of the Bahamas guide books as well. The Explorer Charts are generally recognized as the best.

Hope this helps. Bimini is a pretty short, easy hop from Ft Lauderdale. Once you get there navigation is generally eyeball. The water is clear and shallow spots are readily visible and easy to identify with a little practice. The best is to plan entering harbors, etc with the sun high or behind you to minimize glare on the water.

Enjoy your trip.

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Old 27-03-2010, 21:35   #8
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iPhone ... not kidding ... goodbye Garmin, it was fun, but it's not the '80s anymore ... inexpensive automatically updated charts, weather, gribs, phone, alarms, for the tech geeks it wireless networks to the instruments, Google earth images, facebook, blogging, in your pocket, in your bunk, on the bow. And if you are smart enough to already have an iPhone it will cost you almost nothing.

Less fragile than the beloved sextant....

GPS has become a simple utility. I have my iPhone and a silly cheap NMEA GPS antenna. The brains are elsewhere.

Mine rings at 10:30am. Says "Beer thirty!"
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Old 27-03-2010, 23:56   #9
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for weather and communications install a fixed mount vhf radio and an antenna as high up as you can get it. the coast guard can talk to you all the way across to bimini for safety and you will get vhf weather reports at least most if not all of the way. total cost about $200.

for navigation, the very first thing you should do is buy the EXPLORER CHARTS for the area - i think the one you are interested in is called 'near bahamas'. don't buy any other charts. these are the best charts ever produced for this area - ask anyone. cost is about $50.

for a gps, get a handheld. a simple one like the garmin 72 will give you latitude and longitude, speed, course, and bearing to destination. with that and the EXPLORER CHARTS you should have no problem knowing where you are and where you're going. cost is abou $150, but watch for sales.

you can also get an advanced handheld like the garmin colorado or garmin oregon, and they include a computerized version of the EXPLORER CHARTS built in to the gps. but they're a bit more complicated to use. these cost about $300 or $400.

so for about $400 you've got weather, communications, and navigation. of course you already have a ships compass that you've checked for accuracy. buy everything now so you will have time to install the radio and antenna, read through the chart book, and learn to use the gps.

wait for a good weather window and go. there are a number of good cheap marinas in bimini. prices in bimini are generally less than in other islands of the bahamas. it's a nice island to visit for a week or so.

and if you somehow completely screw up your navigation, just turn west and keep going till you're back in florida. you might be able to miss an island in the bahamas but it's pretty hard to miss the east coast of the u.s.a.....
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